What is Kombucha Tea?

Friday, 1 March 2019  |  The Tea Makers of London

What is Kombucha Tea?

Uncover the talks of this fizzy, fermented craze as we explore the tea's science and health benefits.

What is Kombucha Tea?

Kombucha tea is a  cocktail of tea, sugar and bacteria. That's right, we said bacteria, also known as "mother culture"! 

It has recently become a modern craze in the Western world as a healthier substitute to soft drinks, however kombucha actually dates back to over 2,000 years ago in China. Back then, it was used for its medicinal properties to help ward of symptoms of arthritis and cancer. It is renowned for its long list of health qualities as it is known to help aid digestion, reduce stress and improve energy levels. It also has similar properties to that of green tea, where it is thought to also help speed up metabolism and improve sleep.

Since then, it has slowly made its way over here and now is popular with health-crazed tea consumers and Jonny Wilkinson fans (as he has his own brand of kombucha tea, No.1 Kombucha). 

The drink has a tangy pungent taste that is similar to drinking fizzy apples, and gives off a sharp sour smell. 

Like Pu erh tea, kombucha goes through a fermentation process.

How do I make it? 

Like baking your own bread or growing your own tomatoes, people do home-brew their own kombucha too.

It is an easy process, once your wrap your head around the fermentation part, also known as "culturing". Kombucha is made using:

-  Sugar

- White vinegar

- Filtered cold and hot water

- Black/green tea (loose leaf or tea bags)

- Scoby* 

- Glass Jar

- Damp cloth/teatowel

- Elastic band

* A scoby is bacteria and yeast mixed together which helps produce a certain type of ferment, in this instance, mother culture.  It works as a home for the culture that forms on top of the liquid.  

 

To begin, you need to add the hot water and sugar into the glass jar. You then stir until the sugar dissolves. 

Add your choice of black or green tea into the hot water to steep, for roughly around ten minutes. Allow the water time to cool and then strain the tea/take out the tea bags.

Add the distilled vinegar to the cooled tea. After this, take your scoby and add it in. 

Dampen your tea towel with the vinegar and place on top of the jar, secured with an elastic band or tie.

Let the drink sit for 7 - 10 days, allowing time for the culture to form. You may not initially see the culturing take place, but the tell-tale signs that the process is working are:

- Cloudy lighter liquid

- The aroma/flavour is more sour than sweet

- A haze or baby scoby forms a layer on top of the liquid, generally in a jelly-like form (doesn't science sound so tasty!?)

Once your kombucha is ready, scoop out the bacteria culture and keep for reuse on other home-brews. The drink is now ready to enjoy, with added fruit or extra sugar to enhance flavour!

 

You can read more about how to make your own kombucha in batches here.

Anything else I need to know?

Kombucha is a very complex drink, and even though it is packed with antioxidants with extreme health benefits, it could prove to be harmful if not handled or consumed with care. Have no fear, as we have compiled a list of need-to-knows for a safe kombucha experience:

- As kombucha is a raw, living food, we advise that it is always stored in a fridge. Make sure it is not on its side and DO NOT shake it!

- Because the drink undergoes its natural fermentation process, similar to making beer or wine, there have been uncertainties of the alcohol content in the drink. So, it is recommended those with compromised immune systems or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not drink it, however do check with your GP.

- We recommend to avoid making the drink in a ceramic pot, as the lead from the glaze could be drawn out by the acids in your kombucha. This could infect it with harmful toxins.

- The drink is gluten and caffeine free!

 

You can read more on the health benefits and side-effects of kombucha on BBC Good Food: The health benefits of kombucha

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